BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                      



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                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  SB 1221
          Author:   Lieu (D), et al.
          Amended:  3/26/12
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES & WATER COMM.  :  5-3, 4/24/12
          AYES:  Pavley, Kehoe, Padilla, Simitian, Wolk
          NOES:  La Malfa, Cannella, Fuller
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Evans

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  5-2, 5/7/12
          AYES:  Kehoe, Alquist, Lieu, Price, Steinberg
          NOES:  Walters, Dutton


           SUBJECT  :    Mammals:  use of dogs to pursue bears and 
          bobcats

           SOURCE  :     The Humane Society of the United States 


           DIGEST  :    This bill prohibits the use of dogs for bear and 
          bobcat hunting.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law prohibits a person from 
          permitting a dog to pursue any big game mammal, as defined, 
          during the closed season, or any fully protected, rare, or 
          endangered mammal at any time.  Employees of the Department 
          of Fish and Game (DFG) are authorized to capture any dog 
          not under the reasonable control of its owner or handler, 
          that is in violation of that provision, or that is 
          inflicting, or immediately threatening to inflict, injury 
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          in violation of this provision.  Under existing law, 
          certain violations of the Fish and Game Code (FGC) are 
          misdemeanors.  Existing law prohibits a person from using 
          dogs to hunt, pursue, or molest bears, except under certain 
          conditions.

          This bill prohibits the use of dogs to pursue any bear or 
          bobcat at any time. Use of dogs to pursue bears or bobcats 
          by federal, state, or local law enforcement officers, or 
          their agents, while carrying out official duties would be 
          exempted from the prohibition.

           Background  

          Big game mammals are defined in FGC Section 3953 as 
          antelope, elk, deer, wild pig, bear and sheep.  Bobcats are 
          considered "nongame" animals although there is a hunting 
          season and those with a license and a bobcat tag may hunt 
          bobcat.  A five-bobcat limit exists in regulations of the 
          Fish and Game Commission. 

          FGC Section 3960 establishes the criteria for when dogs may 
          be used to pursue big game mammals.  Generally, dogs may 
          not be used during the closed season on such species, to 
          pursue any fully protected, rare, or endangered mammal at 
          any time, or to pursue any mammal in a game refuge or 
          ecological reserve where hunting is prohibited. 

          DFG employees are authorized to capture or kill any dog 
          inflicting injury to any big game mammal during the closed 
          season that violates the above provision. 

          DFG employees are immune from civil or criminal liability 
          as a result of enforcement actions pursuant to this 
          section. 

          FGC Section 4756 allows hunters to use one dog for hunting 
          bear during deer season.  It allows the use of an unlimited 
          number of dogs during bear season except when the archery 
          season for deer or regular deer season is open. 

          FGC Section 3008 requires dogs to be under the physical 
          control of its owner or as authorized by regulations of the 
          Fish and Game Commission.  Those regulations allow hunters 







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          to use radio telemetry devices, but not GPS devices, on the 
          dogs that are used to chase bears. 

          Penal Code Section 597b makes it a misdemeanor to cause any 
          animal to fight with any other type of animal for the 
          person's amusement or gain. There is no hunting exemption 
          in Section 597b, but there is little legal authority that 
          connects this prohibition with the state's hunting laws. 

          DFG reports that approximately 1,500 bears were killed in 
          2010 by hunters in California.  That number was 20% less 
          than 2009.  Hunters are required to send an upper tooth to 
          DFG for DNA analysis.  The total population of bears in 
          California was estimated by DFG to be nearly 40,000, 
          although the margin of error is nearly 8,000 bears.  A 
          revised statistical estimate reduced the population to 
          30,000, although the margin of error remains high.  The 
          take of bears has been declining, causing some to worry 
          that the population is not robust. 

          The bobcat population is estimated to be 70,000. 

          Forty-five percent of the bears were killed with the use of 
          dogs.  About 11% of the bobcats killed in California in 
          2011 were killed with the use of dogs. These figures do not 
          include illegal take by poachers. 

          The counties with the largest bear harvest are Siskiyou, 
          Shasta, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Humboldt, and Mendocino. 


          There are about 25,000 bear hunters in California.  There 
          were 4,500 bobcat tags sold in 2011 with a maximum number 
          of tags/hunter of five. 

          Eighteen states allow bears to be hunted with the use of 
          dogs.  Fourteen states, including states with similar 
          hunting traditions to California, have bear hunting without 
          dogs.  These include Oregon, Washington, and Montana. 

          California has considered and rejected similar legislation 
          in 1993 and 2003. 

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes   







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          Local:  Yes

          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee:

           One-time costs of $18,000 from the Fish and Game 
            Preservation Fund (special fund) beginning in 2013 for 
            changes to Fish and Game regulations.

           Uncertain revenues losses, from negligible to a $265,000 
            annually but likely approximately $130,000, starting in 
            2013 from Fish and Game Preservation Fund (special fund), 
            mostly to the Big Game Account, from reduced bear and 
            bobcat tag sales.

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  5/8/12)

          The Humane Society of the United States (source)
          American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 
          Animal Legal Defense Fund
          Animal Rescue Team
          BEAR League
          Best Friends Animal Society
          Big Wildlife
          Born Free USA
          Environmental Protection Information Center 
          Haven Humane Society
          Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association
          In Defense of Animals
          Injured & Orphaned Wildlife
          Klamath Forest Alliance
          Lake Tahoe Humane Society
          Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care
          Last Chance for Animals
          Last Chance for Animals
          Lions Tigers & Bears Big Cat Sanctuary and Rescue
          Los Padres ForestWatch 
          Mountain Lion Foundation
          Ohlone Humane Society
          Ojai Wildlife League
          Paw Pac
          PEACE
          Project Coyote
          Public Interest Coalition
          Sacramento SPCA







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          San Diego Animal Advocates
          San Francisco SPCA
          Santa Clara County Activists for Animals
          Santa Clara County Activists for Animals
          Santa Cruz SPCA
          Sierra Club - Kern-Kaweah Chapter
          Sierra Club California
          Sierra Wildlife Coalition
          Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los 
          Angeles
          State Humane Association of California
          The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center
          The League of Humane Voters, California Chapter
          The Marin Humane Society
          The Paw Project
          WildCare
          Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release

           OPPOSITION  :    (Verified  5/8/12)

          Barnum Timber Company
          California Cattlemen's Association
          California Houndsmen for Conservation
          California Outdoor Heritage Alliance
          California Rifle and Pistol Association
          California Sportsman's Lobby 
          California Waterfowl Association
          Central California Sporting Dog Association
          Modesto Houndsmen Association 
          National Shooting Sports Foundation
          Outdoor Sportsmen's Coalition of California
          Safari Club International 
          Shasta County Cattlemen's Association 
          Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors
          U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    The lead supporting organization 
          is the Humane Society of the United States which is heading 
          a large coalition of animal welfare organizations.  The 
          main arguments of the author and other supporters are as 
          follows: 

          1. According to the author, hunting bears with dogs is 
             cruel and unsporting. He objects to the practice of 







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             releasing dogs equipped with radio devices to chase 
             bears or bobcats across great distances, often across 
             private property or public property where no hunting is 
             allowed. 

          2. As described by the author, at the end of the chase, the 
             bear or bobcat climbs a tree or fights with the dogs, at 
             which point the hunter can arrive and shoot the bear or 
             bobcat.

          3. One supporter from Shasta County wrote that wayward 
             hounds have attacked her cats, her poultry, her 
             livestock and killed 14 deer near her home.  There are 
             other reports of dogs being lost during hunts or injured 
             or killed by their prey. 

          4. The author and sponsors also have obtained numerous 
             reports that the dogs are often treated improperly, 
             especially those dogs which are rented from kennels that 
             raise dogs for the purpose of bear hounding. 

          5. The sponsors and other supporters are concerned that 
             historically bear hunting has been closely associated 
             with poaching or other enforcement problems for DFG.  
             Some supporters argue that a ban on hounding will reduce 
             poaching. 

           ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION  :    It seems that every hunting and 
          sportsmen's organization is united against this bill with 
          the addition of a ranching organization, one timber 
          company, and the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors.  The 
          main arguments of the opposition are as follows: 

          1. Bear hunting is necessary to minimize human-bear 
             interactions. 

          2. Hunting with dogs is humane in the sense that the bear 
             or bobcat can be killed quickly. 

          3. The bill is simply an emotional attack on one type of 
             hunting. 

          4. Hounding is necessary to meet DFG's management 
             objectives for native bears and that even with telemetry 







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             devices on dogs, the bear population has increased over 
             the last 40 years. 

          5. Hounders do not take the state's full quota of bears or 
             bobcats.

          6. The use of dogs is part of a proud tradition of hunting 
             and is a very challenging and physically grueling 
             endeavor.  Dogs are not mistreated. 


          CTW:mw  5/8/12   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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